The Challenge of Using Epidemiological Case Count Data: The Example of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and the Weather

25 August 2020

Forthcoming in Environmental and Resource Economics
View Journal Article / Working Paper

The publicly available data on COVID-19 cases provides an opportunity to better understand this new disease. However, strong attention needs to be paid to the limitations of the data to avoid making inaccurate conclusions. This article, which focuses on the relationship between the weather and COVID-19, raises the concern that the same factors influencing the spread of the disease might also affect the number of tests performed and who gets tested. For example, weather conditions impact the prevalence of respiratory diseases with symptoms similar to COVID-19, and this will likely influence the number of tests performed. This general limitation could severely undermine any similar analysis using existing COVID-19 data or comparable epidemiological data. This could mislead decision-makers on questions of great policy relevance.